Saturday, September 7, 2013

Merrimack River to Cromwell's Falls

On this beautiful early September Saturday morning, Mrs. Trashpaddler and I joined with a dozen other participants (Abby, Beth, Denise, Gene, Jeannette, Joe, John, Lynda, Paul, Sue, Ron, and Rose) in trash patrolling a 3-mile stretch of the Merrimack River above Greeley Park in Nashua, NH.  Today's event was the fifth in a series of trash patrols organized and led by Denise Hurt of the New Hampshire Appalachian Mountain Club Paddlers (NHAMC Paddlers) and was conducted in partnership with the Merrimack River Watershed Council.
 
After launching our boats from the ramp at Greeley Park (photo above) we headed upriver recovering what trash we found along the way.  Occasionally items were transloaded from a smaller vessel to a larger one...
Ron's canoe, once again, did the lion's share of cargo hauling.

Here Mrs. Trashpaddler shows she has a trash grabber and isn't afraid to use it...


The most interesting part of today's patrol came at Cromwell's Falls as we passed through the remnants of an old lock...

Henry David Thoreau and his brother John passed through this same lock on September 3, 1839 during their multi-day journey from Concord, MA to Concord, NH.  In his book A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers Thoreau says "We passed Cromwell's Falls, the first we met with on this river, this forenoon, by means of locks, without using our wheels.  These falls are the Nesenkeag of the Indians.  Great Nesenkeag Stream comes in on the right just above, and Little Nesenkeag some distance below, both in Litchfield."  Back in 1839 there was a lock-man on duty here who'd shared stories about the trader Cromwell and how he was said to have buried treasure before fleeing impending justice from the Native Americans he'd cheated.
Thoreau also related crossing over to the east side of the river: "On the opposite bank, where it jutted over the stream cape-wise, we picked up four arrow-heads and a small Indian tool made of stone, as soon as we had climbed it, where plainly there had once stood a wigwam of the Indians with whom Cromwell traded, and who fished and hunted here before he came."

While none of us found any arrow-heads we did find discarded toys, tires, inner tubes, ladders, chairs, bottles, cans, and a car battery.  The bow of Ron's canoe rode low in the water on the return trip downriver...
..and the results of our combined efforts assembled at the Greeley Park Boat Launch...

Following the patrol we enjoyed a nice lunch provided courtesy of SUBWAY.

Approximately 400 pieces of trash were removed from the river today.

Denise and the NHAMC Paddlers have one more trash patrol scheduled this season: October 5th on the Nashua River in Pepperell, MA.

5 comments:

josullivanjr said...

What a great idea!!! I just bought a vintage Penn Yan canoe/rowboat to begin taking the young grandkids out on the Exeter and other rivers. We will keep a big trash bag on board at all times and pick up litter as we see it.

Joe
Brentwood,NH

Suasco Al said...

Joe, Best of luck with your new Penn Yan boat and any additional ballast you take onboard.

doc harvey said...

i'm delighted to learn of kindred spirits across the ocean. it's impossible for me to paddle on, leaving trash. cleaning the mary river, noosa river,yabba creek, weyba creek, 6 mile creek etc as we go is a simple way to show our appreciation of the wonderful wild river habitats in the sunshine coast hinterland area of south east queensland australia. pliers & knife help where fishing lines & lures are tangled in mangroves or trees. keep having fun. cheers. maura.

Kerri Antosca said...

Hi I am trying to get to Cromwell Falls Lock on foot. Do you have any tips? I can't find any good info on where exactly it is.
acml_assistant@comcast.net

Trashpaddler said...

Hello Kerri, Reaching Cromwell Falls on foot may require obtaining permission from landowners. In looking at Google Maps Cromwell Falls can be seen just downriver from the large Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Merrimack, NH. It would be due east of where the Daniel Webster Highway intersects with Industrial Drive. On the east side of the river in Litchfield, Broadview Drive and Riverview Circle look to be the closest roads.
Hiking in along the railroad tracks (with permission) might be possible from where the tracks cross Mast Road on the west side of the river. The lock is on the river's west side. Good Luck!